Over the past few weeks my Global Partners colleagues and I have met with hundreds of service and support managers and professionals at the Field Service USA, Field Service Medical Europe, and Technology Services World conferences. Based on our discussions with field service people as well as participation in round table discussions and listening to dozens of presentations by industry leaders, we gained many insights into the current state of the technical support and service industry as well as future trends. Here are 4 of the trends that we found most interesting.
1. Service and Support people are the new competitive differentiators
Customer support and service organizations know that only delivering quality service, even extraordinary customer service is no longer enough to be competitive. As products in every industry become increasingly commoditized, service becomes the new differentiator.
In his presentation at Field Service USA, Larry Wash, CEO of Kone Elevators described how KONE is building its brand around service. As Walsh said, “Service is a people-based business, so our brand is our people.” KONE has executed its service-branding strategy by doing things such as creating brand ‘ambassadors’ and providing customer experience training to its 18,000 service engineers worldwide.
2. Companies want their service people to be more proactive than they have been traditionally
The days when service people could respond to a service request, fix the customer’s technical problem and move on are long gone. Customers today want their service suppliers to be partners, to understand what they are trying to achieve and help them achieve it.
Service companies on the other hand recognize that their service people already have a special ‘trusted partner’ relationship with their day to day customers. They want their service people to leverage that relationship to advise and provide value for the customer, which very often translates into expanded business and new revenue opportunities. Nearly every service company we spoke with is looking at different approaches to ‘unleash the revenue generating power of their service organization’.
3. Creating a differentiated Customer Experience that can be executed consistently across the organization is a major challenge
The experience that customers have when they interact with suppliers, whether on the web, on the phone or face-to-face with customers increasingly determines their loyalty and drives customer growth. Creating the right customer experience is the easy part. Embedding that in the organization’s culture and deploying it globally is far more difficult, as suppliers are discovering.
This becomes further complicated by the fact that more and more service is delivered by third party multi-vendor service organizations.
4. Service and support models are moving from a focus on service efficiency and driving customer satisfaction to ones focused on enabling customer success and achieving customer outcomes
In her presentation at Technology Services World, Judith Platz from TSIA points out, “Leading ‘Pacesetter’ support organizations are now realizing that they have placed too much emphasis on cost and operational performance. This extreme focus has come at the expense of a value-driven experience for both the customers and employees.”
Moving to a Customer Outcome based approach requires looking at those customer outcomes and metrics that are most important to the customer and that the service provider can influence. Then the supplier must build a strategy on impacting those metrics and outcomes.
Share your thoughts on these current service and support trends and how they are impacting your organization in the comment section below. To learn how other organizations are addressing these issues and opportunities, check out upcoming Total Customer Focus public workshops.